China marks centennial of Communist Party with 300+ orchestral, ballet, theater, opera performances

Posted on: July 7, 2021

“Yan Shengmin, a Chinese tenor, is known for bouncy renditions of Broadway tunes and soulful performances in operas like ‘Carmen,’ ” write Javier C. Hernández and Joy Dong in Thursday’s (7/1) New York Times. “Lately, Mr. Yan … is a star of ‘Red Boat,’ a patriotic opera written to celebrate the 100th anniversary this week of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party…. A wave of nationalistic music, theater and dance is sweeping China…. Choreographers are staging ballets about revolutionary martyrs. Theaters are reviving nationalistic plays about class struggle….. Orchestras are performing works honoring communist milestones like the Long March, with chorus members dressed in light-blue military uniforms…. [Xi Jinping’s] government has announced plans for performances of 300 operas, ballets, plays, musical compositions and other works…. ‘The government wants artists to focus on Chinese works that … positively reflect China’s image,’ said Jindong Cai, director of the U.S.-China Music Institute at Bard College. Critics have denounced the so-called ‘red’ works as propaganda. But Chinese artists say that is partly the point. ‘China is very strong now and people should respect that,’ said Warren Mok, a Chinese tenor who is embarking on a national tour to celebrate the centennial.”